The Oxford Eagle
Living in one of the top towns known for partying and college life may be difficult for some who want to uphold their religious beliefs. That’s why Derwin Payton, a University of Mississippi junior public policy major from Pascagoula, recently founded WORD Ministries
The group that meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. was established to unite different students and other Christian citizens of the Oxford community.
Payton decided to start the group after contemplating and consulting with a minister friend.
“I had been thinking about this for a while, going back and forth, until I finally decided to start the organization,” Payton said. “I wanted to provide a safe place for Christians, no matter their race, age, classification or background, to come together and fellowship. I realized that this would not be an easy task, but I was ready for the challenge. ”
Payton was raised in church and attended weekly in Pascagoula. However, once he moved away from home, he stopped attending regularly. He realized how much he was missing being in the church, and wanted to help those who were dealing with the same problem.
“I remember how my mom would wake me for church each Sunday morning as a child, but when I moved to Oxford, she was not there anymore, so I just didn’t go,” Payton said. “I found myself forgetting about all of the principles and values that my mom taught me as a child. I knew that this was not acceptable and that I had to do something to correct it.
“Many young people in Oxford are not attending church, so this is a way for them to still receive a word,” he said.
Payton’s goal is to expand his organization and spread the Gospel throughout Oxford.
“I really focused on the minority group in Oxford simply because there is a lack of minority participation here,” Payton said. “There are not many Christian organizations around that minority citizens usually attend outside of church, so I really wanted to change that.”
Many younger Oxford residents look up to Payton as a mentor.
Kelsey Agnew, a UM junior, said you can tell how dedicated Payton is.
“He is so welcoming, and you can really tell that he enjoys helping others with tough situations through the word,” Agnew said.
“I will definitely be attending more meetings in the future. I was very surprised at how big of a difference attending just one meeting made.”
As a public policy major, Payton is no stranger to speaking to large crowds. He enjoys being in the forefront and standing strong in his beliefs. He is determined to use his platform in the community to encourage others to join his organization.
DJ Gatewood, a UM senior, said Payton is a good person.
“In today’s society, it is hard to find people who mean what they say, but Derwin is very inspiring and positive,” he said.
“Going to a meeting after having a long, stressful week is very helpful. He really has a way of encouraging you, and making you feel better about whatever you are going through.”
Since Payton started WORD ministries, the organization has grown.
“I really loved the way that they took real everyday issues and related it to the Bible in some way,” Agnew said.